November 7, 2011

What's Your Type?

Do you know that diabetes has more than one type?  If you are part of the DOC, or affected by diabetes in any way, no doubt you would be able to answer this question in much detail.  But I would be willing to bet that the percentages of people who could answer goes down significantly for those not directly affected by one or both of these diseases.  AND, I would go further to say that the percentages go down even more for those that have not somehow been affected by Type 1 diabetes.  One of the reasons that I feel so sure of this is that if you had asked me back in 2008, I would have told you "sure, I know what diabetes is"...only to spout out information about type 2 diabetes.  I also can tell you that we have encountered numerous individuals, who have shared their take and experiences with diabetes with our family.  I know that they are well-meaning "advice-givers", however, they have got it ALL WRONG!  Mostly, they are all quoting experiences of dealing with type 2 diabetes.

So, let's clear up this type thing...

Both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are serious!  They both increase a person's risk for many health complications.  But there are some real differences that matter between the two and I want people to KNOW!

Causes:  Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease.  It is caused when the body attacks itself, destroying the insulin producing cells in the pancreas.  This leaves the person dependent upon receiving insulin via an insulin pump or multiple daily shots.  Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder.  With Type 2 diabetes, the body is still producing insulin.  The problem here is that it is either not producing enough insulin, or it is not able to use it effectively.

Risk Factors:  Type 1 diabetes is not preventable.  Many people think of diabetes as resulting from an unhealthy lifestyle.  This is not the case with type 1.  Exercising more or eating certain types or amounts of food will not prevent or reverse type 1 diabetes.  Genetics, being overweight and lack of physical activity are all risk factors that can lead to type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes accounts for only 5-10% of the people with diabetes.  The majority of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, accounting for 90-95%.

I found a great chart showing some differences between type 1 and type 2 on Revolution Health.  I'd like to share the information from the chart here: 

Differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes
-Symptoms usually start in childhood or young adulthood. People often seek medical help because they are seriously ill from sudden symptoms of high blood sugar.

-Episodes of low blood sugar level (hypoglycemia) are common. 

-It cannot be prevented.

Type 2 diabetes
-The person may not have symptoms before diagnosis. Usually the disease is discovered in adulthood, but an increasing number of children are being diagnosed with the disease.
-There are no episodes of low blood sugar level, unless the person is taking insulin or certain oral diabetes medicines.

- It can be prevented or delayed with a healthy lifestyle, including maintaining a healthy weight, eating sensibly, and exercising regularly


I am certainly no doctor!  So, here are a few additional resources I found which discuss the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes:


Diabetes Fact #1:  Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells in the pancreas.

Diabetes Fact #2:  No one knows exactly what causes type 1 diabetes. However, it IS known that it is NOT caused by poor diet or lack of exercise. Scientists believe that both genetic and environmental factors are involved.

Diabetes Fact #3:  Type 1 diabetes, sometimes referred to as Juvenile Diabetes, can strike at ANY age.

Diabetes Fact #4:  Type 1 diabets can occur suddenly and causes a dependence on insulin for life. Until there is a cure.

Diabetes Fact #5:  To stay alive, people with type 1 diabetes must take multiple insulin injections daily or continually infuse insulin through an insulin pump.

Diabetes Fact #6:  People with type 1 diabetes must test their blood sugar 6 or more times a day by pricking their fingers. Ally's fingers look dirty - but when you look closer you see tons of tiny holes.

Diabetes Fact #7:  While trying to balance insulin doses with food intake, daily exercise and activities, people with Type 1 Diabetes must still always be prepared for serious hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemic (high blood sugar) reactions which can be life threatening.


  1. I love the organized and stright forward way that you listed these out, Misty!

  2. Catching up on your blog. You're doing such a great job of eduating, advocating and raising awareness!


  3. Hi Misty, I would like to add that type 1 diabetics can get type 2 on top of their type 1 diabetes. My son is an example of that. When he was first diagnosed, he actually had "double diabetes". Since he's lost weight, the insulin resistence that goes with the type 2 has gone away.

    You did a wonderful job!

  4. Great post, clear and informative.


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